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Rubio, Van Hollen Introduce Legislation to Deter Foreign Interference in American Elections
Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) today introduced the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act. It sends a powerful message to any foreign actor seeking to disrupt our elections: if you attack American candidates, campaigns, or voting infrastructure, you will face severe consequences.
We know Russia manipulated social media channels and hacked political campaign committees and local elections boards to undermine our democratic process in 2016. We expect the threat will grow in future years – and we must do everything possible to prevent these attacks. The DETER Act uses key national security tools to dissuade hostile foreign powers from meddling in our elections by ensuring that they know well in advance that the costs will outweigh the benefits.
“We cannot be a country where foreign intelligence agencies attempt to influence our political process without consequences,” said Senator Rubio. “This bill will help to ensure the integrity of our electoral process by using key national security tools to dissuade foreign powers from meddling in our elections.”
“Protecting the integrity of our elections is an issue that knows no party. And with the midterm elections less than a year away, we have no time to waste,” said Senator Van Hollen. “The DETER ACT sends an unequivocal message to Russia and any other foreign actor who may follow its example: if you attack us, the consequences will be severe.”
· The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) must issue to Congress a determination on whether any foreign government has interfered in that election within one month after every federal election.
Actions That Will Elicit Retaliation
· A foreign government, or an agent acting on its behalf, cannot purchase advertisements to influence an election, including online ads.
· A foreign government, or an agent acting on its behalf, cannot use social and traditional media to spread significant amounts of false information to Americans.
· A foreign government, or an agent acting on its behalf, cannot hack and release or modify election and campaign infrastructure, including voter registration databases and campaign emails.
· A foreign government, or an agent acting on its behalf, cannot block or otherwise hinder access to elections infrastructure, such as websites providing information on polling locations.
· If the DNI determines that the Kremlin has once again interfered in an American federal election, the bill mandates a set of severe sanctions that must be implement within ten days of the DNI’s determination.
· This includes sanctions on major sectors of the Russian economy, including finance, energy, defense, and metals and mining.
· Every senior Russian political figure or oligarch, identified in the report required by the Countering America’s Adversaries Act of 2017, will be blacklisted from entering the United States and will have their assets blocked.
· The Administration is also required to work with the European Union enlist their support in adopting a sanctions regime to broaden the impact.
Preparing for Other Potential Attacks
· The DNI has identified China, Iran, and North Korea as our other major foreign government cyber threats, and they may also seek to exploit American vulnerabilities in the next election cycle.
· The Administration should present Congress with a plan for preventing interference in our elections for each of these countries, and any other foreign state of significant concern.